Over the course of the last few weeks, I've happened upon some bad reviews for a few different books I was reading at the time. Some of them, in my eyes at least, came just a hair short of insinuating that the author of this worthless tripe should be beaten about the head and shoulders. As an aspiring author, it's hard not to slip on those shoes.
For most of my life I thought of writing not as a career path but as a hobby. This was partly because I lacked the dedication to see a story through, and partially because I wondered if I could ever deal with the criticism that an author faces by putting themselves-and their art- out there.
You may wonder why I'm thinking about this, as I am nowhere near the publication stage. I feel that for myself, it's important that I not only prepare my manuscript for publication, but that I prepare myself. I don't think of publication as an if, but a when. It may take me five or ten years, but I will get there. Ultimately, getting bad reviews is a good problem to have. It means my book is published, and out there for the world to see. This means that my life's dream has been realized. Go me!
While reader reviews are a long way off for me, beta reader and critique partner reviews are not. No one has read Positive Tension other than yours truly. My husband knows some plot points, but that's it. Just putting my novel into the hands of people I know and love me gives me hives if I think about it too long, so I try not to.
I guess for myself, I had to decide that the knocks along the way to get to publication and then possibly horrid reviews once the book is out are worth it. That doesn't mean I'm feeling very Kumbaya about it, but I've accepted it. I know that I will take some reviews poorly, but I want to be a published author badly enough that it's worth dealing with the negative side. You're putting a part of yourself out there for the world to look at, so like the celebrity that has to deal with the paparazzi following her around, writers have to deal with negative reviews and criticism.
Author Lili St. Crow touched on these topics far more eloquently than I have. You can read her thoughts on judgment & rejection and reviews here.
Writers: How do you deal with criticism?